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A new report from The Wall Street Journal has revealed how troublesome Apple’s modem project is. According to the sources who shared the details in the report, the issues range from unrealistic goals to failing prototypes and more.

The report highlights Apple’s ambitious plan to produce its own modems for its devices in the future, which even led it to spend billions of dollars and hire Intel and Qualcomm engineers. However, despite years of work and rumors about using it for the next-generation iPhone SE, the most-awaited 5G modem is still unavailable and Apple still has to rely on Qualcomm. The Cupertino giant recently even had to sign a Qualcomm chip 2026 extension deal, reflecting the fact that it is still not ready to manufacture its modem. With this, sources and other individuals who commented on the matter stressed that Apple clearly underestimated the situation.

In the report, Apple’s former engineers and executives describe the issue as “largely of Apple’s own making,” adding the plan was a poor communication and technical challenges present as well. Even more, the report claims that managers are not united about the idea of Apple pushing to design its own chips instead of purchasing them. Jaydeep Ranade, a former Apple wireless director, said Apple must have thought it could build a modem just because of its silicon’s success.

WSJ revealed the failing project, described as “essentially three years behind Qualcomm’s best modem chip.”

…tests late last year found the chip was too slow and prone to overheating. Its circuit board was so big it would take up half an iPhone, making it unusable.

Teams were siloed in separate groups across the U.S. and abroad without a global leader. Some managers discouraged the airing of bad news about delays or setbacks from engineers, leading to unrealistic goals and blown deadlines.


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